EletiofeU.S. Soccer will build a national training center and...

U.S. Soccer will build a national training center and make a landmark move to Atlanta

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Henry Bushnell

Aerial drone view of Atlanta Skyline, Georgia the peach state show Dome of State Capital. (Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Aerial drone view of Atlanta Skyline, Georgia the peach state show Dome of State Capital. (Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The U.S. Soccer Federation plans to build a national training center in Atlanta, a first-of-its-kind facility that will become the federation’s new headquarters and centralize most of its operations.

U.S. Soccer has been based in Chicago since the early 1990s, but its national teams have held training camps and games in dozens of different cities across the country. The Atlanta facility, which will include everything from fields to office space, will become an all-in-one hub for the federation’s commercial staff, youth national team camps, sporting operations and much more.

The senior men’s and women’s national teams, dubbed the USMNT and USWNT, will almost certainly still travel coast to coast, to various markets, for games. But they will now have a home base, with “elite infrastructure for training, development, recovery and performance analysis,” according to U.S. Soccer.

The training center “will also host youth tournaments, soccer community conferences and will be a gathering place for the broader soccer ecosystem,” the federation said.

U.S. Soccer has not yet selected a specific site in metro Atlanta. It doesn’t yet have a timeline for construction. But its board of directors approved the plan on Friday, paving way for the announcement, which represented the culmination of discussions that accelerated in 2022 and 2023 but date back several years.

U.S. Soccer chooses Atlanta after years of discussions

A national training center was always seen as desirable. Globally, many successful soccer federations have one. The central questions for U.S. Soccer were twofold: Does a singular hub make sense in a nation this big? And with so many state-of-the-art facilities throughout that nation, was it worth spending hundreds of millions of dollars to construct one specifically for the national teams?

“The reality is, this is a massive country,” then-USSF president Carlos Cordeiro said in 2019. “We are as big, if not bigger, than all of Europe together. We are one federation for all of that. So … do we have one training center? Do we have multiple training centers? Don’t assume that everything is going to be in one location. It could be in one location. It could be in three or four locations. It’s a compromise between having everybody together versus the reality.”

Both questions were answered, in part, by Arthur Blank, the Home Depot co-founder turned philanthropist. Blank, who owns the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United, pledged $50 million to the project. His contribution and other corporate partnerships helped sway U.S. Soccer leaders — including CEO JT Batson, a Georgia native — to choose Atlanta over Cary, North Carolina, the other finalist.

Batson has been traveling to Atlanta to meet with potential benefactors and explore potential locations for the facility. He helped secure a partnership with Coca-Cola, another Atlanta-based corporate giant, which “played an important role in bringing the [facility] to the company’s hometown,” U.S. Soccer said. Batson is now leading the search for the specific site; a final decision will be made in January, and construction could begin later next year.

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